CNMI NON-RESIDENTS TO BE RESTRICTED FROM OPERATING BUSINESSES

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By Benhur C. Saladores

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (August 11, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)--- Proposed legislation seeks to limit guest workers from setting up businesses in the Northern Marianas and forbid the employment of non-residents in companies owned by these foreigners.

The move is aimed at stamping out the increase of business licenses issued by the Department of Commerce (DOC) which are allegedly being passed from one non-resident worker to another, according to the author of the bill.

Representative Oscar Babauta, proponent of HB 11-247 filed last month in the House, said engaging in any business in the Commonwealth by foreign workers is a violation of the Non-Resident Workers Act - a law that sets forth the purpose of granting the privilege to be employed here.

The proposed measure will also address reports at the DOC as well as at the Department of Labor and Immigration in which business licenses have been found at the hands of foreign employees of the original owner who is also a guest worker here.

"Non-resident workers somehow manage to get hold of business licenses while being an employee in the company owned by another non-resident," Babauta said in an interview.

The rampant practice will be prohibited under the pending bill since it will amend the Commonwealth Code restricting employment of non-residents by these businesses.

In particular, the target will be those guest workers who came to the islands before July 28, 1987 for employment and who now have a financial interest in or operate a business employing non-residents.

On the other hand, guest workers, who arrived after the cut-off date, will be restricted from opening a local business and having a stake at any company, the bill said.

According to Babauta, these businesses may have also violated the Foreign Investment Act, which requires an investor on the islands to post a security deposit of $100,000 with the commerce department.

Although he declined to elaborate on increasing reports of violations, Babauta revealed that government authorities have begun to conduct "thorough investigations" in an effort to address the concerns of most legislators.

For additional reports from The Saipan Tribune, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Saipan Tribune.

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